tv House Session CSPAN February 2, 2015 8:00pm-9:01pm EST
and, true, we have a lot of obstacles to overcome. but i don't think any group of people have been as successful as we have, coming from the pits of slavenry in such a short period -- slavery in such a short period of time as we are now and to see how much more work we have to do that one day our children and our grandchildren would say, why did they have to have a congressional black caucus? why wasn't it just a democratic caucus? why did we need it? >> because of the commitment of individual members of the black caucus that come from all walks of life and got here to make this a better country and more effective congress, soon and
very soon we may hear those words, why did we need it. until we accomplish these goals, thank god that we have it. i think the democrats appreciate the work we are trying to do. and one day as so many people children and grandchildren will see that we were trying to eliminate the pain of all people regardless of color and make it red white and blue become the theme the fathers of this constitution should have been striving for. there is no question in my mind that the things we stand for really what the country is committed to do and i'm so proud these last couple of years that there's not a group of people that i would rather spend time
with than with my friends and colleagues in the congressional black caucus. mr. payne: thank the gentleman from new york on his thoughts and perspectives which are always needed in this house. i have the honor and the privilege of recognizing the gentlelady from alabama who represents the city the town that is on everybody's breath over the past several months the honorable sewell. ms. sewell: i applaud the c.b.c. for the special order hour and i commend my colleague from new jersey, congressman payne, and my colleague from illinois, the gentlewoman from ohio for
choosing tonight's special order. selma i have the great pleasure of standing before you not only as a representative who represents the great city of selma, but as a native of selma, alabama. and a lifelong member of the historic brown chapel a.m.e. church. i know that the journey i now take, the journey that many others who are here today take was only made possible because of the courage fortitude and determination of those brave men and women on that bridge blood sunday, march 7, 1965. we who have the privilege and honor of taking this journey must ask ourselves, what will we
do to extend the legacy? what will we do to protect the legacy? selma is the soul of america. it's a place where the struggle for civil rights and voting rights began, the epicenter, if you will, of the voting rights movement. it deserves to be more than just a footnote in the history books. it deserves to take up chapters in the history book. the tactical and strategic voices of martin luther king and those brave men and women that had the fortitude and the intellect to see this as a strategy to know that they were speaking not only for themselves and their children, but for future generations. only a true visionary could
defeat opposition with little more than a dream. and dr. king held so tightly to his that it forced our country to become a more equal and just nation. i know many in my district and many in my city would like to forget our painful past. but we cannot turn the pages as if certain chapters were never written nor can we celebrate how far we've come without first acknowledging where we have been. blood sunday forced america to confront its own inhumanity. our painful past has ushered in a new day. and as i tell my constituents out of our painful past came the birth of a movement that changed a nation. and from that movement came a human rights movement that
changed the world. if we don't write our own history others will tell it for us and they may not be so kind. they may not tell our history the way we would tell our history. you know my father grew up in selma as did i. and the selma of my childhood was very, very different than the selma of my father's childhood. there has been progress. my father went to segregated schools in selma. my father drank from colored-only fountains in selma. my father's mother never got the chance to vote, though she tried to register several times. the selma that i grew up in had an integrated public high school a public high school
that was 55% african-american and 45% white. yes across town, there was an all-white private school. but i want you to know that the selma i grew up in in the 1970's and 1980's it produced me as its first valeditorian of selma high school and i know the journey we all take now because of selma was made possible because of the bravery of others. and as i stood to give my speech in 1982 at selma high school, i remember standing up and saying, maybe one day i could join the likes of a charlie rangel, of a john lewis in the house of congress. i said it as a pius, overly
competent -- confident teenager, but i said it with every vigor, because i believed in my heart that i could be and do anything. why? because the people of that community nurtured me, black and white. my teachers, my girl scout leaders, sunday school teachers yes, i had proud parents who were educated at alabama state university and because of their education at this wonderful quality institution of higher learning, i had a chance to go to princeton, but i had more than that. i had an obligation to give back, to make sure that others had an opportunity to walk through those same doors. it wasn't enough to be the first . in fact, i was most proud five years after i graduated from princeton, that april williams
from selma high school got to go to princeton. i must have done something right. the voting rights act of 1965, which has never been possible had it not been for the intellect, the minds of these wonderful leaders, some known, all of us know about the contributions of our colleague john lewis. all of us know about the contributions of andy young and martin luther king, but some unknowns like my sixth grade teacher, miss jean jackson. she was featured in the movie "selma," because it was her home the home that she shared with dr. jackson, the first black dentist in selma that housed martin luther king and andrew young and all those leaders every time they came to selma, because they couldn't
stay at the all-white hotel. ms. jackson was my sixth grade teacher. she did not live to see the movie "selma." but i'm proud this body is seeking to provide a congressional gold medal to the foot soldiers of the movement so that the mrs. jacksons of the world who had their bravery to go and be on that bridge on blood sunday or turn-around tuesday or the ultimate final march, that they are acknowledged by this nation for the sacrifices that they made. in closing, i want to remind my colleagues of my guest at this state of the union, january 20, 2015. my special guest was 103-year-old emilia boyington. she was characterized in the
movie "selma" as the proud african-american woman who told mrs. king, you are prepared. you are the descendent of kings and queens. your heritage is one and your blood line is one that survived slave ships. you are prepared. ameal yah -- emilia boyington is known for on blood sunday and came back on turn-around tuesday and continued to fight in selma long after the march from selma to montgomery. she honored us with her presence. and as after person after person came up to her and said ms. boyington, i stand on your shoulders. thank you. she said something poignant.
she said everybody keeps talking about being on my shoulders. i tell them get off my shoulders. do your own work. there's plenty of work to be done. i want to remind my colleagues that there's plenty of work for us still to do. i want to honor the legacy of emilia boyington, john reese, john lewis and so many. but we can't honor their legacy without acknowledging that the voting rights act of 1965, major sections of it have been invalidated. we owe it to that legacy, the legacy and memories of those who fought so valiantly. that this body should once again work together to make sure that federal protections are there. because as we know progress is always elusive, old battles are
new again and renewed assault on voting. now it may not be count how many jelly beans are in a jar, how many counties there are in the state of alabama, but nevertheless, we still have modern-day barriers to voting that we must overcome. i hope that we have the courage of our own convict the movie "selma" as a beginning of a national conversation about how we can continue to recommit ourselves to the ideals that were fought on that bloody sunday. i know if we combine our hearts and mind, both sides of the aisle will see it is in everyone's best interest that all americans have the right to vote. and i thank my colleagues of the c.b.c. for having this special order hour. and i invite all of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to come to selma to
experience the living history. and i hope we will all come away from the 50th kemration of the march from from selma to montgomery to once again provide federal protection for all americans to exercise that sacred right to vote. i yield back. mr. payne: thank you, mr. speaker. and i would like to have the gentlelady from texas, ms. jackson lee, speak and unfortunately, i see the difficulty of being the anchor. i have to ask that you keep your remarks at two minutes so the other minutes can get on the record. thank you.
ms. jackson lee: mr. speaker, this is a very important evening and i thank my colleagues, both mr. payne of new jersey and ms. kelly, for, first of all taking up a very important challenge of being able to lead the members of the congressional black caucus through this period of challenge to america. and i'm reflective of the numbers of members who have had the chance to convey their thoughts and each one i thank personally from our chairman, mr. g.k. butterfield, for his leadership and his internal knowledge from his walk in life of the civil rights journey. mr. clyburn for living and understanding the civil rights journey and conveying it in his legislative journey.
for mr. rangel for his service to this nation as a korean war vet, and then coming home to be a vet of the civil rights effort. and then of course to the holder of the seat that represents selma for her life story. and so today i rise to ask the question what is our moral standard? and follow in the words of dr. martin luther king, why we can't wait. this is the clarion call to my colleagues, democrats and republicans. that in fact this year, of all years, calls for us to act. it calls for us to be able to understand why the nation cannot wait, who is going to lift up the moral standard? the walk from selma to montgomery turned into bloody sunday. it was where a young man by the name of john lewis stood bravely stood bravely
alongside of names like josea williams. and it was of course a place where the world watched and it became the stair steps of which the voting rights act was passed. today we realize that on the shoulders of that tragic time, where violence claimed the life of jimmy lee jackson beaten by state troopers as he was attempting to protect his mother and others, violence that claimed the lives of reverend james re, ve of boston -- reeve of boston and another of detroit as she returned from the selma march. a time when 25,000 strong or more marched across the montgomery bridge. we understand that our job is yet not done. and so in the wake of the decision by the supreme court that crippled the voting rights
act, we as members of the judiciary committee and led by our colleague, mr. clyburn and john conyers, sought to correct that crippling. today i stand and ask my chairman and the speaker of the house to have us put that fix with the new members, the same body of individuals that president johnson convened to be able to ensure that that voting rights act of 1965 could be done. and so it is important to note that we not allow the efforts to go unnoted. mr. speaker, the voter i.d. law in texas needs to be corrected by passing the voting rights amendment. the terrible oppression of
individuals in their walk to the polls has to be corrected by this amendment. and then of course we must ensure that the horrors of wealth inequality, medium -- median income for black household $33,764, a mere 60% of median income for white household. and then of course we must move to the criminal justice reform which i'm privilege ed, mr. speaker, to serve as a ranking member on the crime subcommittee. and i join my colleagues in the commitment to ensure that we in fact answer the call of mothers of so many, such as trayvon martin, sean bell, eric garner, michael brown, robbie tollin and many others to make sure that we have grand jury reform, special prosecutor reform prison reform, transitioning on nonviolent offenders to productive life, law enforcement training and best
practices. and, yes, the bill that i introduce, the bill trust act, -- build trust act, that will not give incentives to towns that rely upon racial profiling and stopping african-americans and other minorities to build their revenue. mr. speaker tonight i have the opportunity to remind us that our walk is not done. and in wealth equality and criminal justice reform and as i know that my colleague will mention mr. green the body cameras, all of these closing the wealth gap and passing the voting rights act, are challenges not to democrats, not to minorities, it is to the nation, to our republicans, and our democrats. and so i answer the question why we cannot wait. because dr. king left us a prophetic message and a mountain to climb to get to the promised land. so tonight as i close, i call upon all aspects of the beloved community, that john lewis so
often speaks of, the youth who continue to persist in the streets of america, indicating that black lives and all lives matter women, the impoverished the faith community, workers and many others who is names i've left out, today i ask for them to join hands and march in the month of march in your own cities and ham lets and counties, -- hamlelts and counties, on an agenda of healing, justice and equality, comm commemoration of the march of those who crossed on that bloody day, but those who crossed as well successfully from selma to montgomery. do not sit in your seats. do not sit in your homes. march in the month of march. let me hear your voices. let us see you. let us join you. you call us and we will join you in those marches to make a difference in this nation. i ask for that to all of my
colleagues tonight. i yield back. mr. payne: thank you. the gentleman from texas is recognized. >> thank you, mr. payne. because time is of the essence, please let me get right to the message. where were we in 1965? in 1965 when they crossed the bridge, there were five african-american members of congress. mr. green: now there are 48. in 1965, there were four latino members of congress. now there are 38. there were three airborne can americans in congress. now we have a total of 14. there were 14 women in congress. we now have 104. where were we? we were at a point in our history where it was turning for us, but it was a bloody point in our history. because when president johnson signed the voting rights act, he signed it in ink, but it was
written in blood. it was written in the blood of the people who crossed the bridge, the blood of the people who lived and died so that some of cows have these opportunities to serve in the congress of the united states of america. that's where we were. we have progressed. we have more members of congress. but in a true sense, it's back to the future. because we have seen the evisceration of section 4 of the voting rights act which emass the clerk will designated section 5 of the voting -- emass the clerk will designated -- emasculated section 5 of the voting rights act. we are now back to a point wherein we have to find way to revitalize and to reinstate section 4 of the voting rights act. i am sorry that the time has run out. but i do want to say this. it he -- if we with only five members of congress could get a voting rights act passed, one would think that with 48 we can get it reinstated.
>> mr. speaker i rise to revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro tempore: under the speaker's announced policy of january 6, 2015, the gentlewoman from ohio, ms. beatty, is recognized for 30 minutes. mrs. beatty: thank you. mr. speaker, i'd like to join my other colleagues tonight to thank congresswoman kelly from illinois and congressman payne from new jersey for organizing tonight's congressional black caucus special order hour. i rise to highlight a pivotal moment in american history, the selma voting rights march that 50 years ago, mr. speaker brought together americans to march from selma to montgomery, alabama, across the now famous edmon pettis bridge. there were attacks and dogs,
beatings and deaths. but still we marched because we as a country knew that all americans should have the same rights. the walk was an effort to demonstrate the desire of black american citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote. and to be treated equally. mr. speaker although the civil rights act of 1965 legally desegregated the south, discrimination and segregation remain throughout much of the united states. the march led to the passage of the voting rights act of 1965, which today continues to be eroded and a threatened bill. the communities across our nation are are certainly -- have threats to their basic rights. and there are certainly injustices. in the words of dr. martin
luther king, they still ring true today when i think about his words, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. when i reflect on my recent trip to ferguson where i witnessed firsthand that it seems that we are still re-engaging in our unfortunate history and ongoing challenges with voting rights voter registration and injustices and with new vitality and vigor. mr. speaker, i will stand with my colleagues, those who are here, along with congressman john lewis and congresswoman terry sule, who -- sewell, who when we march across that bridge and when we say we must turn our march toward solutions, if we, democrats and republicans, can watch a movie together about selma, sharing
silent moments and tears sharing stories of our own experiences, surely we can come together to fix voting rights. how long must we wait mr. speaker how long will it take? let me end with these words, mr. speaker. it is on all of us here in this body to march for voting rights and to march for having voting rights. thank you mr. speaker, and i yield back. >> mr. speaker, i'd like to reserve the balance of our time. and now i yield to my colleague, congresswoman robin kelly. mr. kelly: i'd like to thank -- ms. kelly: i'd like to thank the gentlelady from ohio for her important remarks. as we come to a close i thank the distinguished gentleman from the garden state, my good friend, representative donald
payne, for his tremendous leadership, for leading this congressional black caucus special order hour. in our hour of power, we've had the opportunity to speak directly to the american people. this is a privilege that i take seriously and a responsibility that the c.b.c. cherishes. tonight we strengthen our future by embracing our past. 2015 represents a critical junction in the advancement of our nation. 50 years after the selma to montgomery march that strengthened civil rights and improved access to the ballot. today we find ourselves with equally important grounds to cover and promoting civil rights, reducing economic and health disparities and strengthening voter rights protection. as a legislative body we've made progress. but as representatives and men and women who love this country, our work continues. as we look back, we are comforted by the bridges we've crossed. the trails week of blazed. and the future ahead of us that
we envision. i want to thank the entire congressional black caucus, especially my fellow co-anchor the gentleman from new jersey, congressman payne. 50 years after selma the c.b.c. remembers that it exists to promote the public welfare through legislation that needs -- meets of needs of millions of neglected citizens. it's that spirlt that guides us and -- spirit that guides us and many others in congress. when we see millions of when we see obstruction in our path to creating a more expect union, we respond. i thank my colleagues and with that, i yield back. mrs. beatty: i would like to allow my colleague, congresswoman clarke to share
her thoughts with us. ms. clarke: i thank the gentlelady from ohio mrs. beatty for extending this time and thank ms. kelly and the gentleman from new jersey, mr. payne. mr. speaker, i want to thank my colleagues in the congressional black caucus for hosting this evening's special order and this extension this evening. today, i proudly rise to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic event of the nonviolent protest that took place in selma, alabama and celebrate the importance in igniting and fueling the civil rights movement that brought the end of jim crow segregation in america and voting rights legislation that guaranteed
every american citizen the right to vote. it is a privilege to represent the 9th district in new york and talk about blood sunday. the march from selma to montgomery in 1965 included more than 600 women and men who walked this -- from the historic brown chapel a.m.e. church to the state capital of alabama. they marred for the right to vote the freedom and human dignity that had been denied to them. they marred to end the evil practice of segregation and violent terrorism to which they were subjected on eafer every day basis and remove poison from our society racial segregation. at the bridge, this peaceful protest was met with police
dogs batons, and hatred and violence. images of this tragedy were broadcast across america opening the eyes of citizens to the brutality and injustices that african-american communities especially in the south, had experienced every day. five months after blood sunday, the voting rights act of 1965 was signed into law on august 6 1965, by president johnson, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting. i was nine months at that time. sadly, the right to vote remains under threat in the united states. just imagine, five decades later, the treatment and discrimination, the trampling of civil liberties of communities of color, black and hispanic
latino-americans continues to be a blood-soaked stain on the "star-spangled banner" and on the minds of many americans. in june, 2013, the supreme court ruled section 4-b of the voting rights act was unconstitutional undermining our ability to protect the right to vote and ensuring unfettered access to the ballot. the members of the c.b.c. will not stand silent and allow the partisanship in this house to reverse these gains made through the bloodshed and the lives martyred to erase from the law books those have fought and died. since we made great progress since 1965, it's all relative. as along as racism remains in the hearts and mind of some
americans, there is still much work to be done so the blood sweat and tears shed for the freedom and justice in 1965 and every day since will not have been in vein. the courage it took for our colleague, representative john lewis, and the countless and nameless americans to face an angry state-sponsored mob soy we can enjoy the freedoms of our country must never be forgotten. we must remain vigilant and continuously fight for equal rights regardless of race, gender sexual orientation or social background. until then, mr. speaker the struggle continues. and i yield back to the gentlelady from ohio. mrs. beatty: mr. speaker, as we talk about the struggling continuing, it is my honor to ask my colleague and classmate, congressman mark veasey from
texas to be our next presenter. mr. veasey: thank you, mr. speaker. and thank my colleagues representative pain and representative kelly putting together this special order and the theme is 50 years of selma where we are and where we're headed because it's important to have that discussion. oftentimes people say in conjunction when you talk about civil rights we need to move on it was the past. it happened a long time ago, but we can learn a lot from the past. we can learn a lot about where we're going by studying our history, so i'm really glad during this black history month that started in february, that we are able to reconnect and take the opportunity to talk more about our communities' past and the challenges that we face and selma really provides us
with a great vehicle to do that. i think about an event that i attended several years ago when i was in the state legislature and i was talking to the audience and mentioning some of the schools in the forth worth area. and after i got done talking i was dismayed one of the reporters came up to me who was younger but graduated nine years after i did and she said wow, i was raised in fort worth and graduated from a school in fort worth, but i never knew that the schools were segregated here. and see how quickly the history can fade and disappear if it's not kept alive and why one of the reasons i'm excited about selma and the opportunity to talk about this more because we really do need to make sure we keep our youth reconnected with
the past so we know that it will fade away. and also, when you start talking about where we're headed and it's been mentioned tonight, i would like to say we are headed towards someplace more positive and some place that is for the betterment of all americans, but we know that there are many mechanisms out there that are being designed and implemented by state legislatures all around the country to impede one's right to vote. you can look no further than the state that i'm very proud of, my own state of texas but we have some serious issues. when you look at redistricting in the state of texas and voter i.d. laws that were passed in the state of texas and right now in the state of texas you can't vote with a state-issued i.d. but can vote with a state concealed weapon license. there were barriers to people
voting, the same types of barriers that were put in place, maybe a little bit different, maybe with a smile on their face, but we know that the goal is to exactly what was done in selma 50 years ago and it's to prevent people from voting. and so, again i want to thank the congresswoman from ohio and i want to thank my colleagues from illinois and from new jersey putting this together. we need to talk about history. it is not the past. it really is still the present. something similar to what faulkner said, and we need to continue to have these discussions and share these stories with our young people. but i think more importantly, that we need to put them in the perspective from today because many of these battles, we know we are still fighting. and so i'm glad that i'm able to
share this with everyone. and i hope that all members, regardless of where they're from, regardless of what their party is, if they can think what happened during 50 years ago when the walk mapped and something we can all happened. i yield back the balance of my time. and thank you mr. mr. speaker, for allowing me to have a few words. mrs. beatty: mr. speaker, at this time, i would like to have congresswoman coleman. she is part of this freshman class. gives me great pleasure to ask her to say a few words. mrs. coleman: i want to thank the gentlelady from ohio for yielding me this time. i want to thank both the
gentlelady from illinois and the most very gentleman from new jersey in providing this opportunity to speak tonight on something that i think is very important. as a member of the c.b.c., very proud member, i'm here because i rise to commemorate a slice of american history that speaks to the spirit that is america. we rise to acknowledge the sacrifice of a generation whose risks were ultimately america's reward. we rise to recognize the american heroes and sheroes of selma. from selma, we learn that protests and objections that are deemed un-american today made later be considered the greatest manifestation of american democracy. from selma, we learned that because of a young person's protest today he may be called an outside agitator, a trouble
maker or even a pro vat tore. that person may later be called a hero or even a congressman. from selma, we learn ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they are on the side of righteousness. selma taught us that it is always the right time to do what's right. but at the time of that fight, the likelihood that this generation of young dreamers would be successful and transform an entire society seemed slim, but they per see verdict anyhow. in the face of insurmountable odds, they fought for what was right no matter the consequence. today we must learn from their example and persevere in the fight of working families even those who believe there should be no floor for the poor or
ceiling for the rich. we must persevere despite the fagget there is little reward for people who cannot fight for themselves and we must fight for what it is right and not what is popular. we must fight on the side of righteousness when we debate access to health care, education, right to marry and plain old justice. i look forward to this collective will and this collective commitment of the c.b.c. because i know that we can never forget selma. thank you, mr. speaker. i yield back my time. thank you to the gentlelady of ohio. mrs. beatty: mr. speaker, in closing remarks, let me thank you for extending our time tonight. we have heard from voices of legends tonight. but tonight, i would like to end by giving special recognition to two new voices, two new legends
who tonight led us through something more than a special order hour. they led us through a special order hour in history. to congressman donald payne of new jersey. thank you for picking this topic and partnering with my colleague and friend congresswoman robin kelly. mr. speaker tonight they are our voices of the future. tonight, they had the courage to come and manage time on an issue that we think as members, not only of the congressional black caucus, but of this congress, being the conscience of this congress. hopefully it will make a difference in this chamber as we proceed forward. thank you again congressman payne, congresswoman kelly. you are our voices. thank you, mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman yields back.
>> president obama laid out a budget priorities. these include community college. we will hear from the president next. then, we will get a breakdown of budget requests from the pentagon. later, the department of health and human services. president obama's nearly $14 trillion budget includes spending for education and national security. also, tax rebates for middle-class americans and higher taxes for the wealthy. the president says he would not accept a budget with automatic spending cuts.
[applause] >> thank you. thank you so much. please have a seat. good morning, everybody. it is good to be here at the department of homeland security. let me thank jeh johnson, for the outstanding job he's doing a secretary, and for a short introduction. i like short introductions. give him a round of applause. [applause] this is a great way to start the week. i get to do something i enjoy doing, which is saying thank you. nobody works harder to keep americans safe than the people who are gathered here today.
you don't get a lot of attention for it. that is the nature of the job. but i know how vital you are. i want to make sure more americans know how vital you are. again, just about every threat we face, from terrorist networks to microscopic viruses to cyber attacks to weather disasters, you guys are there. you protect us from threats at home and abroad, by air and land and sea you safeguard our ports and patrol our borders. you asked -- inspect our chemical plants, screen travelers for ebola, shield our computer networks, help cut down criminals from around the world. you have a busy agenda. a full plate.
here at home, you are ready to respond to any emergency, at a moments notice. it is extraordinary how much the department of homeland security does every single day to keep our nation, our people, safe. it is a critical job, and you get it done without a lot of fanfare. i want to make sure you have what you need to keep getting the job done. every american has an interest in making sure that the department of homeland security has what it needs to achieve its mission syria and we are reliant on that mission every single day. today, i am sending congress a budget that will make sure you have got what you need to achieve your mission. it gives you the resources you need to carry out a mission in a way that is smart and strategic and makes the most of every dollar.
a broader blueprint for american success in this new global economy, because after a breakthrough year for america at a time when the economy is growing and businesses are creating jobs of the fastest pace since the 1990's, and wages are starting to rise again, we have fundamental choices to make about the kind of country we want to be. will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well or will we build an economy where everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead? that is the focus of my state of the union address, when i called middle class economics. everybody does rest when everyone gets a fair shot. everyone plays by the same rules. the budget that congress has in its hands, is built on those values. it helps working families'
paychecks go farther, with things like paid sick leave and childcare as economic priorities . it gives americans of every age that chance to earn higher wages . it includes my plans to make two years of community -- community colleges free for students. it keeps us building the most attractive economy with research infrastructure, and manufacturing, and expanded access to faster internet and new markets for goods made in america. it is also a budget that recognizes that our economy flourishes when america is safe and secure. investing in i.t. networks to protect them from malicious actions. it supports our troops, and strengthens our border security.
and, it gives us the resources to confront global challenges, from i still to -- isil to russian aggression. since i took office, we have cut the deficit by about two thirds. i will repeat that, as i always do when i mention this fact. the public often times, if you ask them, they think the deficit has shot up. since i took office, we have cut our deficit by about two thirds. that is the fastest amount of sustained deficit reduction since after the demobilization at the end of world war ii. we can afford to make these investments while remaining fiscally responsible. in fact, we cannot afford -- we would be making a critical error if we avoided making these investments.
we can't afford not to. when the economy does well, when we are making investments and growing, that is part of what keeps the deficit low, because the economy is doing well. we have to be smarter about how we pay for our priorities. that is what my budget does. at the end of 2013, i sent -- i signed a bipartisan agreement that ended the arbitrary cuts known in washington-speak as sequestration. the folks here at homeland security know a bit too much about sequestration. many of you had to deal with the cuts and the uncertainty around them. it harder for you to do your job. the 2013 agreement helped us boost economic growth, part of the reason why we grew faster last year is, we were no longer burdened by mindless
across-the-board cuts. we were more strategic about how we handled our federal budget. now, we must take the next step. my budget will end sequestration and fully reverse the cuts to domestic priorities in 2016. it will match the investments we make domestically, dollar for dollar, with increases in the defense funding. top military officials told congress last week that if they do nothing to stop sequestration, there could be serious consequences for national security. at a time when the military is stretched on a whole range of issues. that is why want to work with congress to replace mindless austerity with smart investments that strengthen america. we can do so in a way that is fiscally responsible. i will not accept the budget
that locks in sequestration going forward. it would be bad for security and bad for our growth. i will not -- accept a budget that severs the links between national security and the economic security. there are some on capitol hill who would say, well, we would be willing to increase defense spending but we are not going to increase investments in infrastructure or basic research. those two things go hand in hand. if we do not have a vital interest -- infrastructure or broadband lines across the country, that makes us more vulnerable. america cannot afford being shortsighted. i will not allow it. the budget i have sent to congress is fully paid for through a combination of smart spending cuts and tax reforms. let me give you an example. right now, our tax coal -- code is full of loopholes, like the
trust fund loophole that allows the wealthiest americans to pay taxes on unearned income. i think we should fix that. we should use the savings to cut taxes for middle-class families. that would be good for the economy. i know there are republicans who disagree with this approach. i have said this before, if they have other ideas, for how we can keep america safe, grow our economy while helping middle-class families feel economic security, i welcome their ideas. but their numbers have to add up. what we cannot do is play politics with economic security or with national security. you, better than anybody, know what the stakes are. what you do hangzhou the balance. just a few weeks from now funding for homeland security will run out.
it is not because of anything this department did. it is because republicans in congress who funded everything and government through december, except this department. they are now threatening to let homeland security funding expire because of their disagreement with my actions to make our immigration system smarter fairer, and safer. let's be clear. i think we can have a reasonable debate about immigration. i am confident that what we are doing is the right thing. and, the lawful thing. i understand there may be disagreements with me on that, although i should note that a large majority of republicans agree that we need comprehensive immigration reform. we are prepared to act in the senate, and should act in the house. if they do not agree with me, that is fine. that is how democracy works. they usually don't agree with me.
don't jeopardize our national security over this disagreement. as one republican put it, if they let your funding run out it is not the end of the world. that is what they said. well, i guess literally, that is true. it may not be the end of the world, but until they pass a funding bill, it is the end of a paycheck for tens of thousands of frontline workers who continue to get -- continue to have to work without getting paid. over 40,000 book border patrol or customs agents, 50,000 airport screeners, 13,000 immigration officers, 40,000 men and women in the coast guard. these americans are not just working to keep us safe. i have to take care of their own families.
-- they have to take care of their own families. the notion that they would get caught up in a policy disagreement that has nothing to do with them makes no sense. and if republicans let homeland security funding expire, it is the end of any new initiatives in the event that a new threat emerges. it is the end of grants, to states and cities that improve local law enforcement and keep communities safe. the men and women of america's homeland security apparatus do important work to protect us and republicans and democrats in congress should not be playing politics with that. we need to fund the department. p or and simple. -- pure and simple. pass a budget that funds national security at home and abroad and gives middle-class
families security to get ahead. this is one of our most basic and important responsibilities as a government. so i am calling on congress to get this done. every day we count on people like you to keep america secure. you count on us to uphold our end of the bargain. you count on us to make sure that you have the resources to do your job safely and efficiently, and that you can look after your families while you are out there working hard to keep us safe. we ask a lot of you. the least we can do is have your backs. that is what i will keep doing for as long as i have the honor of serving as president. i have your back. i will keep on fighting to make sure you get the resources you deserve. i will keep fighting to make sure that every american has the chance, not just to share in america's success, but contribute to america's success. this budget